Any entrepreneur who’s ever launched a product knows what an overwhelming and nerve-wracking process it can be.

There are so many things that can go wrong, and no matter how much you prepare, something always seems to explode at the last possible second. Maybe you’ve found yourself, less than a week before your launch, mired in email and landing page content that you haven’t even had a chance to touch because your product has been through so many unexpected tweaks that it’s thrown everything off schedule. You thought you gave yourself more than enough time to get everything done, but after missing several crucial launch deadlines you don’t know how you’ll catch up in time.

Maybe you’ve figured out the hard way that it’s surprisingly easy for a seemingly small technical glitch to derail your entire launch. As your launch inches nearer, stressful late-night calls to software support lines, your web developer or your payment gateway provider become the norm. You’ve tried to cover all your bases, but you can’t shake that nagging feeling that you might be forgetting something that will come back to haunt you on launch day.

Worst of all, maybe you already launched – and it was a flop. Whether your emails went out at the wrong time, your payment gateway failed or your target buyers were let down by your product, a launch failure is a painful and expensive learning experience. Is there a way to make sure you never have to go through that again? Yes. 

Orchestrating a successful launch is difficult in today’s crowded market.

Even today’s most skilled entrepreneurs have experienced the occasional disappointing product launch. According to Forbes, there are about 250,000 new products launched globally each year, which means launching a product that stands out is hard.

How hard? Market research analyst Lynn Dornblaser reports said, “The typical failure rate of new product launches can be anywhere in the 85% to 95% range.” That’s high!

Unfortunately, the plans that most businesses create for their product launches are inadequate.

Not only does a crowded market make it difficult for entrepreneurs to pull off a successful product launch, there is also the issue of preparation. Unfortunately, the plans that most businesses create for their product launches are inadequate. In the Harvard Business Review, product launch experts Joan Schneider and Julie Hall said, “The biggest problem we’ve encountered is a lack of preparation: Companies are so focused on designing and manufacturing new products that they postpone the hard work of getting ready to market them until too late in the game.” Most businesses just don’t know what they should be doing ahead of time to prevent launch problems. That’s where researching previous launch successes and failures should come into play.

Here’s what the launch experts know:

There’s one simple thing that entrepreneurs can do that will dramatically increase their chances of success: Create and follow a detailed, step-by-step plan. Rather than putting out fires as they occur and rushing to catch up on the many tasks that must be complete before launch, it’s better to create a detailed plan ahead of time and follow it through launch day….and beyond. Take stock of everything that’s actually under your control, and you will be able to prepare for an amazing launch – and still pull it off even if you do face a few bumps in the road.By following a reliable launch plan, you can give your product the best possible chance at success. Backup plans are a key part of a detailed launch plan, and focusing effort on mapping out your entire launch process (including potential emergencies) is much more productive than tearing your hair out last-minute to prevent them.

Your relationships with customers matter.

Product Launch expert John Gallagher has experienced just about everything that can go wrong during a launch, from crashing servers to emailing the wrong list, but he has still managed to turn each emergency into a success. What’s his secret? After one particularly ill-fated launch in which his main website hosting service was down for three days, he said, “I was able to pick back up and have a great launch the last two days of the launch because people knew I had a great product… By using the foundations and sequences of a launch and having a great list, I have always been able to pick back up midstream, no matter what happens, and use those technological disadvantages to my advantage.” John Gallagher’s success shows that the secret of a successful launch is a reliable plan and solid relationships with your customers.

The recipe for building up your relationships with customers revolves around trust. The Ultimate Product Launch Guide says, “Customers have a penchant for getting what they signed up for. They enter into a pact of trust with you the moment they submit their order. A word of advice: Deliver exactly what you promise, not just the first time, but every time.” You may not be able to prevent your hosting service from crashing, but you can set yourself up for a successful launch by following a detailed plan and working to build trust with your market.

How will creating a detailed plan help you to flawlessly pull off your product launch?

It will:

  • Ensure you have the time and resources available to get to know your audience so you can craft a compelling message about your product that they will find irresistible
  • Let you nail down the map of your entire launch process so you can avoid making overly-complicated product marketing or delivery plans
  • Make it easy to create a clear, reliable calendar to follow throughout the launch so you don’t find yourself behind on essential launch tasks at the last minute
  • Show you vulnerable areas of your launch strategy so you can prepare detailed backup plans to protect your launch from damaging complications
  • Lay out every essential part of your launch in a product launch checklist so you don’t leave out anything important
  • Give you peace of mind that you are not forgetting to handle any essential details so you can do your best work on a short deadline without worrying about a last-minute crisis

To learn more about what should go into a detailed product launch plan, check out The Ultimate Product Launch Guide.

About Lindsay Kent

Lindsay is a graduate of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and holds a degree in Journalism with a concentration in Public Relations and minors in Spanish and Integrated Marketing Communications. After working with several small businesses, Lindsay moved to sunny Santa Barbara to become ONTRAPORT’s Content Marketing Coordinator. Lindsay loves traveling and spending time with her two Siberian Huskies, Sochi and Mila.